December 29, 2009

Christmas, phase 2

Phase two has been just as cozy + snow! + flannel.

The afternoon/evening we arrived, it snowed fat, light flakes the whole time.

Hermit in the library

This tree is elevenish feet tall.

Blazer boys

Last night, we initiated what will evolve into an annual pub crawl. Stop #1: thumbs up.

"What was your 7th grade science project?"

"Whether cats are right-handed or left-handed." (Not a joke.)

Stop #2: not as favorite. But probably better in the summer.

Taking over the dive bar jukebox with Radiohead, Nickel Creek and Keane. We were not their favorites, either.

Stop #3: We added a few more participants and had fish & chips, as well as a few onion bricks. Not rings, not strings; BRICKS of greasy goodness. But I forgot to get a picture. You can see the remnants below.

(They're having more fun than their faces look.)

Next up... celebrating the END of this year and the start of a fresh one!

December 25, 2009

some highlights (part one)

Well, Christmas outside has been dismal (alternating rain and wind) but Christmas inside has been merry and cozy. We went to a Christmas Eve service together, followed by appetizers, dinner, and Beatles Rock Band hour.

Christmas Day unfolded something like this.

(that is a Bodywrap Blanket, NOT to be confused with a Snuggie. And it is amazing.)

Toby is always subjected to this.

...Mary's box-o'-Riesling gift.

And, the various costume changes of Coconut.

Merry merry and holly jolly!

December 23, 2009

(Christmas spoiler alert!)

The Christmas presents I'm making for my immediate family involve poetry, but since I'm pretty sure none of them read this blog (OR DO YOU, SNEAKIES?) I feel safe disclosing the previous detail.

I've been going through my pitifully sparse stash of poetry books, and keep finding ones that are so, so great. I really should be dog-earing all the pages or something, but I'll just leave them alone for another four years or so- enough time to forget them and rediscover them all over again.

Here's one of my new favorites:

i am a little church(no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
-i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth's own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying)children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope,and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church(far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature
-i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring,i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)

- ee cummings

p.s. Toby can fight with Coconut while laying down, and she has all four paws on his face somehow. He is the gentlest big brother/cousin I've ever seen.

December 16, 2009

some serious honesty.

Our time together as a commune/family of boomerang children is drawing to a close, and boy is that a pile of mixed emotions. It has been both weird and comfortable, but I will say this: I can't, CAN'T wait to no longer be living out of boxes, digging for spices and books of poetry in the basement, and wondering if my most comfy slouchy boots are lost forever or just lost in an unmarked box.

One unusual, unexpected angle has been living with the in-laws as the news and early stages of the first grandbaby have begun trickling in, long-distance. Everyone is excited, and maybe I'm a little relieved to not be going first, but the in-laws are definitely sad that this event is mostly taking place 1,200 miles away.

Now, my personal list of reasons/fears/hesitations when it comes to parenthood is long and multifaceted. And the worst is knowing that if and when I ever want to have a baby, I won't get to share that with my mother. I don't know how she dealt with all the tiny ups and downs of pregnancy, what kind of babies my brothers and I were, or what advice she would have given me- and chances are my dad could recall a smattering of these.

I'm so, so glad my sister-in-law is taking the plunge first, mostly because I know she'll be a fun and amazing mother. And even though her mom can only hear her through the phone instead of watching her change day to day, at least the phone connects them. For me, the joy and the grief come tightly hand in hand.

December 12, 2009

just another day

Coconut: my ears!

(Yes, Toby is a closet Kelly Clarkson fan.)

December 3, 2009

A little rearranging

Hey peeps, in an effort to change things up a little and not include quite so much first-and-last-name-personal-information, I'm shifting things over to a different blog: a tin can telephone. (I tried "tin can telephone" without the "a", but some dude who hasn't posted since 2006 has it, and I'm too lazy to branch out from Dang.) I'll keep this one open for a while so everyone can get used to the switch, but I'll either end up deleting this one or blocking it. We're moving our stuff and our dog and our lives soon (AGAIN) anyways, so why not move this too? Catch you on the other side...

the kids' table

Our Thanksgiving in a nutshell.

November 14, 2009

A Revival

So, when my husband lost his job back in January it automatically meant cutting out any and all extra spending, such as eating out, going out for drinks, clothes shopping, and yarn shopping. Knitting is so relaxing and comforting to me, especially when I'm traveling or staying home sick- basically any situation I'm trapped in and just have to wait out! But the costs definitely add up, depending on how fast I'm turning out projects, so other than gifts for people I had to cut myself off. And it sucked.

So when a brief, amazing sale at a craft store rolled around a couple weeks ago, I was in the perfect vulnerable position to cave. I haven't worked for six weeks now, and have way too much free time on my hands, so cave I did.

First in the lineup is a sweet short-sleeved cardigan- I've never knitted a sweater before, so we'll see what happens. Then, an assortment of baby blankets and maybe even some teeny tiny dog sweaters for the ankle biters in the family. That's not a joke. I will almost definitely be knitting some canine sweaters. Expanding my knitting resume, that's what!

Coincidentally, during one of our spelunking adventures into the basement to dig through our hundreds of boxes for shoes or books or coats, Bryan found his long lost pipe and humidor. So, we are back to our normal nerdy geezer selves over here. Sort of.

November 8, 2009

her simple worsted gray/is silver now with clinging mist...

Well, I should have saved the Frost 'November' poem for today. Yesterday was 70 degrees and breezy, but today is a bit more seasonal.

November 6, 2009

My November Guest

(although it is sunny today)

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.

(Robert Frost)

November 1, 2009

A Farewell to October

Halloween really ought to be our national holiday. For real. It's not in my top three favorite holidays, but for some reason this year the quirkiness of this holiday struck me. On no other occasion is every single home expected to give free candy to every stray, oddly-dressed child who threatens for it. Regardless of race, religion, age, or gender, it's a given that we all participate. It's not a holiday necessarily centered around family or the people we love; the most exciting parts (at least for kids) (well, for that matter, maybe adults too- plenty of parents in our current neighborhood were strolling behind their kids with beers in hand) take place away from home. Its success depends on the participation of the community and public acceptance. It's the only night kids are encouraged to take candy from strangers, for crying out loud. It's such a topsy-turvy, contradicting mix of fear and fun, of terror and sugar, of screams and laughter. And I guess one of the many benefits is that it can be expressed in a bajillion different ways through decorations and costumes, whether hand-spun or store-bought; and unlike Thanksgiving or Christmas, there's no pressure or mounted expectation to be a smiley, loving, perfectly functional family unit. Expectations are as broad as your own creativity allows.

Overanalyze much?

In other news, I will never ever grow tired of watching autumn leaves flare up like so many matches, and burn down to smoldering embers until cold November rain snuffs them out.

October 27, 2009

how to be a girl

I have been traveling a lot lately, and inevitably the entertainment comes down to trashy magazines. My laptop battery is decrepit, I run out of new podcasts, and I need something more akin to cotton candy than whatever heavy, dense, fruitcake-of-a-book I happen to be reading (because, of course, it makes me feel good about my English-major-self to wade through books like this and check them off my list, but my attention span just isn't up to it). Enter: a glossy mix of celebrity gossip and fashion/personal care magazines.

They're fun and pretty and indulgent, but after flipping through two or three of them in a row, it starts raising all sorts of concerns in the far corners of my brain. For instance: I do not have a Skin Care and Beauty Regimen to speak of. The magazines declare this is a critical problem because, if I do not adhere to some sort of 5-step program, my skin will spiral into disrepair and LOOK OLD. Never mind the fact that it will, in fact, one day BE old--nasty, wrinkly, crone-face old--I never under any circumstances should look my age, and the time to moisturize is now. The magazines instill a sudden Sunscreen Paranoia I never knew I had. Usually I just wash my face when it starts to feel greasy; who knew that I was unwittingly propelling it even faster into the future?!

I can't even enter the Fashion arena because, a. even if I had the disposable income to spend on a purse with a four figure price tag, I couldn't bring myself to do it, because WHAT PURSE IS THAT AMAZING? and b. clothes are fun, and I like to look cute, but beyond that I am not terribly fascinated by the coming and going of trends.

Outcome of all this? I am a shoddy female. I probably spend the most personal care time on my hair, but that only happens every three days. I DO NOT SHOWER EVERY DAY (If that's a friendship deal breaker, I understand). I wear makeup, but usually when I'm forced out into the public. I hope my husband isn't too fond of the makeup, because if he tells me I'm beautiful too many times without it, I might just quit.

I guess this is where I'm confused: if all this "Personal Care" is really for myself, to make me feel good and for my own well-being, why is it so focused on what I present to the world? My (many) insecurities render me susceptible to how everyone perceives me, although I really really REALLY do not want to care what other people think about my hairshoesjacketeyeshadowrockhardabsjewelry. But I DO care, and I can't help it. We all do, even if it's just the slightest lack of confidence in one small area. And the glossy magazines are getting to me. Evidently there is all this stuff I should be doing, products and regimens to care about in the name of womanhood; an ever-expanding realm of personal care to be insecure about. I suppose there will always be some aspect of my body or appearance that I'm not whipping into feminine shape & order (And I don't even live in L.A., Manda- the body obsession must make you CRAZY).

Yeah, I'll be taking a break from the magazines for a while.

October 13, 2009

just the occasional hiccup

Okay. I now live in Michigan. Last week I was reunited with my husband and my dog after five weeks apart: all good things. Let's talk about the less-than-good things, hmmm? Just because I'm Negative Nancy.

Last Tuesday I was hustling a car full of suitcases of clothes, various toiletries, and bubble wrap stolen from my former employer, trailing warm memories of friends and mixed feelings about Denver behind me. It was a wonder the car made it from Denver to Chicago with no conniptions, and I may have been pushing my luck the last 300 miles... but anyways. I left Chicago late in the morning, in the rain. I drove through Indiana and southwest Michigan in the rain. Continued across the soggy mitten in the rain. Are you catching the less-than-subtle foreshadowing? Of the less-than-good things?

Well, less than 10 miles from my destination (and my dog and my husband and his family), I exited the highway on a curved off-ramp. Ever so slowly--and yet marvelously quickly!--the rear end of the car decided to try to pass the front end, like a scampering puppy whose front paws can't keep up with the back ones. I couldn't tell you which pedal I was kicking at (if at all) or what words were tumbling out of my mouth until I came to a complete stop, but I can tell you that the back end of the car slammed squarely against the guard rail--blessed, precious guard rail--and slowed me down. 30 minutes later, my husband and father-in-law came to collect me, my bumper and my crunched car and drove us all home.

In the days that followed we took a brief trip to Hamilton and back, and I started settling in at my husband's parent's house (possibly while nursing a sore neck). On Saturday we ventured out to find cider donuts and apple cider, because that is what Midwest Autumn tastes like, and it's glorious. Unfortunately, we came home to a slightly altered version of Toby: Scarface edition. We trucked him over to the vet, and one hour later escorted him home with dilated eyes and ten stitches in his cheek. How he managed to gouge his face open while chasing a tennis ball, we may never know. Certain unnamed neighbor children won't be playing unsupervised any more, that's for sure. Toby may not be playing unsupervised any more, either.

This whole major Life Change Transition could be going smoother, is what I'm trying to say.

October 12, 2009

boy do I have updates for YOU.

but until I have time to pull it together, check out the most recent book Yann Martel sent to Stephen Harper. I'm pretty sure I've posted/written about this project of his before, but I find it fascinating and tremendously important. What is Stephen Harper Reading?

September 28, 2009

out of the office (autoreply)

Sometimes I go for long stretches without blogging because I hit streaks when I feel like I have nothing to say. Lately that's not the issue. It's because my internet access has been particularly limited. I was checking all of my usual internet time-suckers the other day, and I could hear my power cord making strange crackly noises, so I shut my laptop down and unplugged it for 24 hours or so. The next day I plugged it back in, and 20 minutes later the crackling was back- so loud that the dogs (not Sadie & Annie- we have moved on to Bailey & Shelby) were intrigued. I figured this could not end well, and while I was trying to block their not-small-or-weak bodies from the chattering power cord, it gave a tiny pop and died. My laptop battery is just about useless, so I steal a few minutes of internet time where I can find it on the behalf of my hosts or the library. But it won't be a consistent presence in my life for at least another 10 days, which, horror of all horrors, is forcing me to READ MORE. I HATE my life.

To be clear: this coming weekend pop and stepmum drive out to CO to help me keep my sanity through my final drive across the Heart of America, which if your main goal is at the other end, and does not include leisurely stops and sidetrack adventures, feels a bit like falling down an endless rabbit hole. It's long. A long, long, flat, long drive one shares with truckers and occasional construction. Almost exactly 1,000 miles of FLAT. (Well, 1,000 miles to IL. Another 300 across MI to where my husband is.) One day, we will make it to Ontario. And all our stuff will too. It's a matter of logistics, but do not doubt I will keep you updated on the joys to be found in work visa applications and the housing market in Canada. Hello, adventure!

September 19, 2009

currently reading:

I'm in the middle of "The River Why" by David James Duncan (who also wrote "The Brothers K" which I have yet to read) and it is about fishing. I care as much about this topic about as much as I care about Nascar or physics or the Jonas brothers, but I am still reading. If you pay attention, Duncan has a sneaky sense of humor and richly multifaceted characters, and I can't help but like this book. Here's an example of why:

"A native is a man or creature or plant indigenous to a limited geographical area--a space boundaried and defined by mountains, rivers or coastline (not by latitudes, longitudes or state and county lines), with its own peculiar mixture of weeds, trees, bugs, birds, flowers, streams, hills, rocks and critters (including people), its own nuances of rain, wind, and seasonal change. Native intelligence develops through an unspoken or soft-spoken relationship with these interwoven things: it evolves as the native involves himself in his region. A non-native awakes in the morning in a body in a bed in a room in a building on a street in a county in a state in a nation. A native awakes in the center of a little cosmos--or a big one, if his intelligence is vast--and he wears this cosmos like a robe, senses the barely perceptible shiftings, migrations, moods and machinations of its creatures, its growing green things, its earth and sky. Native intelligence is what Huck Finn had rafting the Mississippi, what Thoreau had by his pond, what Kerouac had in Destination Lookout and lost entirely the instant he caught a whiff of any city. But some have it in cities--like the Artful Dodger, picking his way through a crowd of London pockets; like Mother Teresa in the Calcutta slums. Sissy Hankshaw had it on freeways, Woody Guthrie in crowds of fruit pickers, Gandhi in jails. Almost everybody has a dab of it wherever he or she feels most at home... But the high-grade stuff is, I think, found most often where earth, air, fire and water have been least bamboozled by men and machines."

September 11, 2009

life in limbo

All of this treading water is wearing me out. Literally living out of a (well, three, really) suitcase has all but lost its charm, and having to do it 1,300 miles away from my husband is even less fun. Maybe it's because my very minutes at my job are numbered, but the days stretch endlessly and the company's shortfalls refuse to be ignored like one of those garbage-truck-sized zits that start out painfully invisible and then ERUPT. You know the ones I'm talking about. In a word, things at work are tense. Not as jolly as they used to be. And in a way, I'm grateful I'm making my exit now, on my own terms.

And although I'll be relieved to leave Denver limbo, I'll just be moving on to Michigan limbo until we make it to the finish line that is Ontario. Which may be awhile. And during which I'm not sure how to occupy myself, considering it will take place in the company of my husband, as well as my brother-in-law and my father-in-law and my mother-in-law, all under the same roof. Can you tell I'm a pessimist? Negative Nancy: present. (Flight Of The Conchords joke. sorry.)

So basically, I'm worrying about situations I haven't even entered yet, and I need to take a step back and just let things unfold naturally without assuming the worst. I'm really good at expecting any & every possible problem or downfall, to the point where my brother told me a couple weeks ago that I should consider giving up being negative for Lent. For serious.

So, in the spirit of not being negative, here are some things I can be grateful for:

  • Autumn is rolling in, even in Denver! This morning was cool and drizzly and completely refreshing. And since we've had such a wet summer maybe the trees will turn some lovely shades of fall instead of just shriveling up.
  • Inspired by smashley: new 'roos!
  • Kind & generous friends who have let me truck myself in & out of their homes for a month.
  • Sadie & Annie, my buddies for one more week, who keep me company and bark at all the strangers.
  • A dad & stepmom who are willing to haul themselves all the way out here so I don't have to make the last road trip alone.
  • A group skype date tomorrow night with some dear, darling friends from ALL four U.S./Canadian time zones!
  • Looking forward to a fall that includes: TWO Thanksgivings, a wedding, and a family reunion, celebrating in particular a 90th birthday and a brand-spanking-new adopted baby Shepard.

September 9, 2009

In honor of the sunniest state...

I still have 22 days left, and although I never felt like it was a place I really belonged, Colorado has its benefits, and this is one of them:

September 5, 2009

stab in the heart I can totally see coming

When I watch this commercial, I know they are manipulating me, I can feel it happening, and I try to resist the pull, but there's a BABY OTTER. Come on now. No animal lover can resist the smarmy sappy let's-save-the-baby-fuzzy-animals-from-evil-corporations propaganda.

September 3, 2009

who's the fairest?

So, some background information. My stepmom has three sons. My dad has two sons, and yours truly. They have a spanking new, lovelier-by-the-day house that is slowly transforming into a home. The necessities are in place (hot water, microwave, wine cooler, internet- important things.) but certain lower-priority details are, shall we say, lagging behind.

Such as mirrors.

There is one mirror in this house. One. And it is tucked away in the master bathroom, and had to be built in with fixtures and cabinets so there was no avoiding it. And the obvious factor: there is only one female in the house, and like most of us all she needs to get by is one mirror in her own bathroom.

There are six more bathrooms in that house, and none of them have mirrors. Maybe it's because it's my own family, so I feel minimal pressure to make myself presentable, but other than the odd moment trying to put in contacts or flossing, the last couple of visits I haven't worried about it too much. I am so used to catching my own reflection many, many times a day that I was more thrown off by the abrupt change to my habits than not being able to check and recheck and triple check my appearance.

At least, I hope habit (and not vanity!) is the reason I notice the absence...

August 26, 2009


Toby and I are in Chicago visiting the family, and I don't really want to leave. It all just fits so easily.

August 14, 2009

Friday: the non-day-off day off.

My day, thus far, in pictures:

When I woke up this morning, I found this scene in the bathroom, and I have to admit I felt a wee bit of concern.

In his attempt to set up a small garage sale early this morning, my husband had smacked his baby toe on a metal bed frame.

He mostly ran the sale himself. I just babysat it when he changed his gauze and poured another cup of coffee.

Check out the bees!
They're responsible for the following: a summer's worth of raspberry jam.

A week's worth of zucchini bread. I know. Just a week. That plant is a beast.

An hour's worth of packing. Heaven knows I love my books, but good grief do they weigh a lot.

...packing because, that is, my darling husband got himself accepted into a Phd. program in Hamilton, Ontario, CANADA... for this fall, if that's not enough tsunami change for ya. It's certainly enough for me. I'll be ping-ponging between time zones for the next eight weeks, but the stuff goes next week. And my LANTA for only three years of marriage, we certainly have accumulated some stuff.

August 13, 2009

having a 'big picture' moment...

This observation may be obvious and a touch stupid, but the simple presence of Facebook is really going to change how we keep in touch with the people we meet throughout our lives. Our impending move is triggering all sorts of reflections for me, but I find it so interesting that my generation was first on the Facebook bandwagon when it was only a college social network, and as we move on, those ties and connections that would normally (and naturally) fade will probably stay in place... although via the most passive venue of relationship/community possible.

The people my parents knew during their childhoods, high school years, and college years have mostly stayed in those time compartments except for the closest of friends; but I can see pictures of weddings I never would have known even occurred, and babies I wouldn't have known existed, if it weren't for the internet. It's a log of every (well, almost every) soul I've had more than two conversations with, and as my life creeps on, it'll be so interesting to follow all those souls too, no matter where on the planet they happen to reside.

August 4, 2009

child of the 80's

There were a lot of fads and cultural highlights of the 80's that I missed.

I was never devoted to a member of New Kids on the Block. I watched maybe three episodes of Saved By The Bell. I didn't see Labyrinth or The Sandlot until college. I'm pretty sure I never wore a side ponytail on purpose, or a sweatshirt hanging off one shoulder with a bright leotard underneath.

But, thanks to my geek of a father, I definitely saw TRON. Many times. And I'll probably watch the new one with him too. (Even now, in a game of SceneIt I am fully dependable in the area of 80's science fiction.)

July 31, 2009

faith is a story

I love this post of Don Miller's. It's a bit long, but stick with it. Something interesting to ponder.

A sample:

'I had a long conversation with a distinguished scholar last month whose lifelong expertise is story structure. He is not a Christian. And as we talked, he said something that fascinated me. He said this:

“I understand you Christians. I understand the essence of your message. It’s this: If you are not a good person, you are going to burn in hell for all eternity.”

As I said, this man was a distinguished scholar and so it surprised me when he made this statement from a position of absolute knowing. There was no doubt in his voice. He wasn’t asking me to confirm. He knew. But he was absolutely wrong. That isn’t the essence of the Christian story, and anybody who believes so is a heretic.'

July 30, 2009

three and counting

I really should have done this post yesterday instead of the garden one... but I swear my priorities aren't that out of whack. I was just waiting for some film to be developed. :)

Happy three years, love! This last one has been bumpy, but for better or for worse it's always an adventure with you. No regrets. I love you always.

July 29, 2009

garden update

Well, two weeks have gone by and the squash monster is growing.

Squash on the left, tomatoes on the right. I was worried about them, but I think they'll pull through.

Somewhere behind the squash: spinach, green beans, & carrots.

And the basil is nestled in there somewhere... hopefully the sun will keep after it.

First round of green beans!

And, this is what happens when I am gone for a weekend and leave one in the oven too long. The arm is for scale.

Every time I step out the front door, I feel a touch like Dorothy opening the door of her tornado-tossed house into a technicolor garden. And the biggest sunflowers haven't even bloomed yet.

Up next: camping with the Brady Bunch!